Tablet PC Update: Good & Bad News

If you've been reading this blog for a while then you'll know that I'm dying to get myself a high-performance tablet PC. I can't afford one right now but, as soon as I can (which I'm hoping is very soon), I plan on getting myself a Toshiba Portege M700. Regarding that, I have some good news and some bad news.

Exchange Rates

First, the bad news. I was planning on buying the M700 from the US (by ordering it online from Portable One) because the configuration available in Australia is both underpowered and overpriced. You can get a significantly more powerful configuration for an overall lower price (i.e. even after you add customs fees and international courier charges) if you order one from the US and have it shipped to Australia.

However, after the recent financial market "issues" and the US-Australian dollar exchange rate changing, ordering the M700 from the US will now cost me a few hundred dollars extra. Bummer. Here's hoping the exchange rate swings back the other way when I do actually getting around to ordering one of these :)

An Upgrade!

On the other hand, there's some really good news. Toshiba recently launched a follow-up to the M700: the M750! The new model is physically similar to the old one but, under the hood, the M750 kicks just a little more ass:

  • The processor (still an Intel Core 2 Duo) has been upgraded from the T8xxx line to the P8xxx line so instead of, say, a 2.4GHz T8300 processor you would now get a 2.4GHz P8600 processor. What's the big deal about that? The P8600 will let you use Windows Vista 64-bit and will give you access to all 4GB of RAM instead of the 3.2GB you had access to with the T8300.

  • The RAM has also been given a speed boost from 667MHz to 800MHz and the standard hard drive speed has also been bumped up from 5,400RPM to 7,200RPM (though I would've ordered the higher-speed hard drive with the M700 anyway).

  • The graphics engine also gets an upgrade so, instead of the Mobile Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100, you now get the 4500MHD which is not only twice as fast it also supports full HD video (1080p) natively.

  • You also get a gigabit LAN connection, a newer Bluetooth version (which faster transfer speeds), and a combined USB/eSATA port (eSATA is great for external hard drives as its data transfer speed is much faster that USB transfer speeds) which is also a sleep-and-charge port (this lets you charge accessories plugged into this port even if your laptop is off).

All in all, the M7xx series -- which was already one of the most powerful tablet PC lines in the market -- now packs an even greater punch with the M750. And the best part? This new, upgraded M750 costs the same as the old M700! Awesome.

[Quick caveat: The M750 isn't selling in custom configurations right now and is, so far, available only in the US and Canada. Also, it doesn't yet have a multi-touch screen -- i.e. with both pen and touch input -- but I'm hoping they'll add that to this model very soon.]

UPDATE: According to Craig Pringle, the M750 has a dual digitizer that has both active and resistive touch. This means you can use both a stylus and your finger on the screen. Excellent.